Cuzco, Machu Picchu and Western Union

Trip Start Aug 29, 2007
Trip End Aug 12, 2008

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Friday, August 1, 2008

The traveling has begun! As soon as we were free from your jobs, Ranna, Nick and I hit the road to start our travels! The three of us headed down to Cuzco, by bus from Cuenca. It would be a 55 hour trip by bus to get there. We had no problems getting a bus to Lima and then to Cuzco. It was a totally of 2 and half days on the bus. It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
We arrived in Cuzco, on Thursday afternoon. We checked in to the hostel, got cleaned up and got ready to explore the city. We all fell in love with Cuzco. It was a sunny day and a cute city with cobble stones streets, a city in the valley around mountains. On Thursday night we were able to meet up with our old house mates from Spain, who had also been traveling in Peru. The night life in Cuzco is amazing! There are some many different bars and dance clubs to go to, most of them offering at least one free drink! The city really comes alive at night!
On Friday we had more time to explore the city and hang out in the many parks, just relaxing. Ranna and I had plans to start the Salkantay Trail for 4 days leading to Machu Picchu, on Saturday morning. This is one of the alternate Inca trails. The classic Inca trail is booked months in advance and cost more money. We booked our trip a head of time, but if you have more time, you can easily book it once in Cuzco for cheaper.
Day one
Our tour company picked us up from the hostel at 6 am on Saturday morning, they them took us at a small town of Mollepata. In Mollepata, we meet our guide, cook, porter and the other hikers, who would join us on the trek. We would be hiking with a older couple from Spain and a cute young boy from Mexico. We had a good group and all got along well.
In Mollepata, we started our hike. In the morning we hiked 4 hours until lunch, this first hours were mostly up hill. It was a struggle of Ranna and I , who have not really done much exercise in the last few months. After lunch we hiked another 4 hours to the camp site, but this was a more level hike. The camp was below the snow caped mountain Salkantay, it was amazing to see, but also freezing cold, at night. We camped in the tents, it would reach 5 below zero. It was freezing, I wore all the clothes I had in my backpack to keep warm. I was still freezing.
Day Two
We woke up at 5:30am, packed up camp, had some coco tea, breakfast and started our hike, day two would be the hardest day of the hike. The first four hours of the hike would be hiking up hill, we were hiking to the summit of Mt Salkantay, which is 4600 meters high. It was really hard. Ranna and I had to take the short cut. Once we reach the summit it was a beautiful view of the snow caped mountain.
From the summit, we still had to hike another two hours downhill. We talked a total of 6 hours in before reaching our lunch site. The views along the trail were so amazing. The trail is self was also very peaceful. There were other groups on the trail that would pass us, but most of the time we had the trail all to yourself.
After lunch we hiked another 4 hours to our camp site, this camp site was much warmer .I was able to sleep nice and warm the second night.
Day three
The third day was our last day hiking, by day three my feet were hurting and full of blisters. We hiked 6 hours in the morning to a small town, where we would have lunch. After lunch we took a taxi to the nearest town to take the train to Augas Caliente. We would stay the night there, the small town next to Machu Picchu. we staying in a hotel for the night and were able to shower and rest up for Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu
On day four, we meet our guide at 6am to get the bus to Machu Picchu, at 5am there was already a long line around the corner to take the bus up to Machu Picchu. We arrived at Machu Picchu around 6:30am. We were able to watch the sunrise over the hidden city. It was so beautiful. It was perfect getting there early in the morning. We then took a 2 hour tour around the site, learning more about the lost city.
After that Ranna and I wondered around the site some more. At about 11 am, we were ready to head back into town, but this time tons and tons tourist had arrived. I am glad we went in the morning because it would have not been fun with tons of tourist there.
That afternoon we took the train back to Cuzco, spent the night relaxing at the hostel bar having a few drinks. We had an early fight the next morning to Lima.
We arrived in Lima around 10am, we were running low on cash and both of us forgot our bank cards, we thought we would be able to make it back to Cuenca on the little money we had left, but we were wrong.
We took a taxi from the airport to one of the bus station to take the bus from Lima to Tumbes. The first company we went to, all the buses were sold out. We got in another taxi, tried another company, but they too were sold out, panic started to set in. We had to get on a bus to Lima because we had to be back in Ecuador, by Friday to get our flight to Galapagos. It takes 18 hours to get from Lima to Tumbes and then another 6 hours to get back to Cuenca.
The next two companies we went to were sold out as well, what were we going to do if we could not get a bus. We would pretty much to screwed. We were able to find a company that had free seats, but for more money. We did not even have enough money to but the bus tickets, we were about 20 soles short (5 dollars).
We had to the sales women save the tickets for us as our hunt for money would begin. We had a few dollars bills and some coin we tried to change for soles. The bank would not take them. So we had to go to the internet.I tried to western union myself money but I could not remember my card information, so that did not work.
I then called my parents, by now we had about an hour before the bus left to find the rest of the money, I used what little money we had to call my parents. Thank God, my mom and brother were home. I was at this point, I was intears on the phone with them, telling them I am all out of money and do not want to be stuck in Lima. My brother said he would be able to send me some money via Western Union. Western Union says you can get money in minutes. So I thought once I had my code I would be able to pick up my money. I got to the Western Union and they told me I had to wait 2 hours before I could get the money. At this point it was already 1pm and the bust left at 1:30pm.
I then ran back to the bus station were Ranna was waiting to see if would try and get on the bus without paying the full price for the second ticket , we only about 5 dollars short. I told Ranna, that I was not able to get the money and we both asked the sale women if there was any way we would get on the bus and pay the remaining fee once we got to Tumbes when I was able to get my money from Western Union. The sale women said we had to pay for the ticket in full, but we could ask the manger and see what he said.
He was our last hope. It told him what happened and my eye were welling up with tears as I did mynot best in Spanish to express what was going on and how important it was that we got on the bus. He said that we could get on the bus for the cheaper ticket price. I thanked him grateful with a big hug and Ranna and I hoped on the bus.
We had made it on the bus but still had not money, we had a total of 3 soles ($1) between both of us.This bus company cost more money and dinner and breakfast was not include ,like it had an the other bus company we took down. We had to save 2 soles in case we were not able to get the money from Westren Union and we would have to call my parents. I was still stressed out but did my best to sleep on the bus ride and hope that everything would work out once we arrived in Tumbes.
We arrived in tumbes and got a taxi to western union. I told the tax driver I had no money and would be able to pay him after I get my money. Thankfully, I was able to get the money in Tumbes. W e saved! In tumbes we still had to travel another 6 hours to Cuenca. In tumbes we got our bus tickets home and some food, we were straving, having not eaten for almost 24 hours.
Once in the bus to Cuenca , I was finally able to relax. We arrived in Cuenca at 8pm on Thursday night, we had just enough time to eat, shower and repack for our next trip Galapagos. We had to wake up at 4 am on Friday to head to Guayaquil to begin our next trip......GALAPAGOS!!!
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